The fact that Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara has publicly declared his support for Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s presidential bid and has officially joined ‘Friends of Raila Odinga’ (Fora) can hardly come a surprise to anyone who follows Kenya politics.
The relationship between the two men goes back many years to the campaign for multi-party democracy. As Raila said when they appeared together at a Nairobi hotel to make the announcement of Imanyara’s support, “Gitobu was also a jailbird. He was jailed for his efforts to bring change and because of that, he has also been recognized internationally”.
A QUESTION FOR IMANYARA
Gitobu Imanyara has a long track record as reform-minded politician, a human rights lawyer and a campaigning journalist. That he sincerely wants change as he declared last week the Kenya Forum has no doubt, and that his desire for change is a key reason why he has come out in support of Raila Odinga we also do not question.
The Kenya Forum has just one question for Imanyara on a subject we have covered before: what was the real reason that he tabled the Parliamentary Select Committee Report into the murder of Dr Robert Ouko in December 2010?
THE SUNGUH COMMITTEE REPORT
Quickly cast your mind back. The Parliamentary Select Committee investigating the murder of Dr Robert Ouko sat in 2003-05 under the chairmanship of the then Kisumu Town East MP Gor Sunguh. Several committee members resigned or conveniently left for other jobs during the committee’s sitting. Of the 10 that were finally left, four did not sign the report. Parliament refused to look at it let alone endorse it (see, ‘Gor Sunguh owes far more than Sh3 million and an apology to Oraro over Ouko inquiry’, 17 July, 2011).
Even the Kenyan Human Rights Commission has referred to Sunguh’s Committee’s report as ‘shoddy’ (see, ‘The Kenyan Human Rights Commission Report (Part 3)’, 12 September, 2011).
IMANYARA TABLES THE SUNGUH REPORT
Suddenly, over five years later, in December 2010, out of the blue, the Sunguh Commission report was tabled in the House by none other than Gitobu Imanyara.
Several days later it was rejected by Parliament but in the meantime Kenya’s newspapers ran front page headlines and many column inches inside on the subject, trotting out the same old stories that had been disproved years before.
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED?
Imanyara must have known that Sunguh’s much derided report would not be accepted by a self-respecting Parliament in Kenya. He must have talked to like-minded politicians and lawyers, some who had sat on the Commission, and have known of their deep concerns about Sunguh’s handling of the whole process. And the Forum comes back to the question, why suddenly introduce the Select Committee’s report in December 2010.
At the time the Kenya Forum noted the ‘suspicious’ timing of the placing of the Sunguh report before Parliament (see, ‘The facts of Dr Ouko’s murder must be properly reported’, 10 December, 2010) and suggested it was more a political move than a desire to reveal the truth about Dr Ouko’s murder.
The Kenya Forum can now reveal that we were told soon after that the real reason for putting the spotlight on the Select Committee’s discredited report was to take the newspaper headlines away from a story that an ODM internal campaign plan – ‘Project Ng’oa’ – had been in part leaked by two disaffected party employees and that this in turn was linked to a meltdown at the ‘leadership, governance, accountability and media watchdog’, Mars Group Kenya, whose massive website crashed in December 2010 (see, ‘Is there life on Mars?’, 13 January, 2011).
So, did Gitobu Imanyara table the Sunguh Select Report in 2010 of his own volition? Or was he asked to do so by ‘friends’?